A LOOK AT LA LIGA
What do you get for a combined 350-million-euro summer investment in the transfer market? A poor six-month return appears to be the answer.
Eden Hazard, João Félix and Antoine Griezmann jostled for the summer headlines but come the winter stock take the conclusion is that they've failed to deliver.
For the ridiculous financial outlay, you'd expect them to be leading La Liga's scoring charts, but after 21 rounds none of the superstars-elect have made it into to Pichichi top 15.
All three have different excuses for not setting Spanish football alight; all three have a mid-term reports that read 'must do better'.
João Félix was the most expensive at 126 million euros and the signs were promising when the teenager was unleashed on the pre-season tour of America. His most newsworthy moment so far was also abroad, when he faced up to Lionel Messi in Saudi Arabia. He apparently told Messi that Ronaldo was a better player and it was over in a flash. We'd still be there if Messi had to list the players who are currently better than Félix.
The young Portuguese international has scored only two Liga goals and the last one was eleven appearances ago. He's made noises that he's homesick, his manager countered by suggesting that young João integrates.
Atlético Madrid's Diego Simeone suggested: "When the passion of playing for Atlético comes to them, things come naturally to everyone, just like with [Stefan] Savić when he arrived and Koke."
Eden Hazard can't be accused of failing to buckle down as Real Madrid released a film of him training in solitary at the Valdebebas HQ. The problem is that he can't buckle his belt!
Hazard admits to gaining five kilos as he's battled back from injury. Since his 100-million-euro move he's weighed in with a single goal in only seven Liga starts. Back in London, Chelsea are bemoaning his absence while Real's fans have hardly noticed his arrival.
Antoine Griezmann is statistically the most successful of the 100-million-plus men, but one Spanish paper cruelly described him as the invisible man recently. This is an established superstar who was man of the match in the World Cup Final and player of the tournament at Euro 2016.
Sharing a stage with Messi and Luis Suárez has been tough. It could be that he's too individual and doesn't fit into a group? Maybe he's football's version of Robbie Williams; he's ok going solo but looks uncomfortable when he's part of a band?
Griezmann did have Ibiza rocking when he visited with Barcelona but the double in the Copa is the only occasion he's scored more than a single goal in a game. His stats are decent; seven goals in the last eleven games but this is a player who made his name dominating matches. At Barça he's been a bit-part player.
Alas, there is a trend of expensive signings failing to live up to expectations. Philippe Coutinho cost 142 million euros but has been sent on a sabbatical to Germany; the 105 million euros invested in Ousmane Dembélé appears to be a vastly inflated fee.
It's just proving my old mum wrong when she told me: "You get what you pay for!"